Strange Tales from the Cookie Kitchen

I was brought up in a strong faith. However far I wandered from its teachings, the miracle of prayer has never left me. I was taught that I could pray any time, and anywhere, on my knees, or walking down the street. It is a habit that has never left me.

“Little boy kneels at the foot of his bed, Droops on his little hands, little gold head, Hush! Hush! Whisper. Who dares! Christopher Robin is saying his prayers …” Vespers. A. A. Milne

christopher robin

February 1989 saw us heading back to the Dominican Republic for another few months. This time with two bikes. In hindsight I should have known that more than spelled trouble. We booked our tickets, Amsterdam – Miami – Port-au-Prince – Puerto Plata. The bikes went for free, unlike these days where you have to pay. (Yes, my husband still takes bikes on planes and I should have known all those years ago that it was going to be an ongoing thing. But let’s face it, I had no idea he would end up as my husband at that point in my life.)

When we disembarked in Miami, things took an unexpected turn. Chris had no visa for the US, which was OK as he was in transit, but he was taken off in another direction to me. I had to leave the airport and check back in again because I was British and did not need a visa.

Bloody Americans and their general paranoia and this was way before 9/11. So yeah, I did that, went back through passport control and sat down hoping Chris would appear again. But he didn’t. He had been made to board the plane that I should have been on with him, despite him telling them that I was not there yet, they seated him. Meanwhile I waited and missed the plane. Don’t ask, because to this day we do not know why they did not call my name. Chris and the two bikes heading off without me.

They put me on a plane to Santa Domingo, 232 km away from where Chris would be. He had no clue as to where I might be. I was exhausted, wired from no sleep and had been about twenty-four hours without a joint, and that is only half the story. I felt as gray as I looked. I had some pesos with me and travellers cheques. I got into a taxi at the airport in Santa Domingo and asked to be taken to a good hotel. It was ten o’clock at night, I was alone in what seemed like a rough city (it was), and I could not think straight. The first two hotels would not take me. A young white woman alone meant prostitute, which meant no, you cannot have a room. The taxi driver had waited for me at each hotel, thank goodness.

The third hotel he took me to let me have a room. It was an expensive hotel and I guess they took pity on me. I had to pay upfront. I was given a room and told that if I wanted room service I would have to pay cash for it, they would not let me put it on a bill.

dom map

I knew where Chris was but had no idea of the phone number of the hotel, which was not quite as much of a problem as not knowing the name of it. We had stayed in the hotel the year before but in-between then and now there had been a refurbishment and that included a name change. The owner, a friend, had written and told us as we made plans to revisit, but damned if I could remember.

I was about at my wit’s end. (As I write this I cannot tell you how much I love the era of technology that we live in, all I would have to do is send a text or make a call. Unimaginable to feel that lost now.) I knew I had to get in touch with Chris, let him know I was on the same island and not back in Miami. (Hated Florida ever since, and never been back – two hours at the airport was more than enough.). It was around midnight. I called the operator and asked for the number of the Hotel ………, that used to be, but now had another name. Right. I burst into tears.

I knelt down by the side of the bed and prayed my heart out, begging for God to help me out of this situation. Bone weary, it felt like my only chance.

Does a prayer answered show there is a God? An unanswered one that there is none? I do not know. But as I asked for help, the name of the hotel was planted within my mind. I could see it as clear as day. Things do not happen by magic, and I had read the name in the letter we had received; I knew it was there somewhere, but I had absolutely no memory of it. An immediate answer to a prayer, when I had to have it. I was so thankful and it has never left me.

I called the operator again, this time getting one that spoke better English. I knew the town and the name of the hotel. And got the number. I remember my hands shaking as I dialled the number.

Within a few seconds I was talking with Chris who was as relieved to hear from me as I was to talk to him. He told me he was jumping straight into a taxi and coming to get me. A good three-hour trip on a less than smooth road, from the north to the south of the island.

dom hotel

The right hotel in Puerto Plata

With utter relief, I peeled the small hidden piece of sticky black hashish off of the back of my watch…

“When troubled times begin to bother me, I take a toke and all my cares go up in smoke.” Up in Smoke by Cheech and Chong

Chris arrived around five in the morning and by breakfast time we were in a taxi heading back north to our original destination. Not only had he lost me, but the bikes had disappeared off of the plane in Haiti, when his plane stopped there for an hour. Thanks to an observant Lufthansa pilot and Chris not giving up looking for them, we got both bikes back three days later.

dom bikes

Val with the hotel owner/friend.

dom val

The trip had not started really well and little did I know that when we returned to Amsterdam three months later, my life would be blown apart.

CQ of APJ

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28 Comments

Filed under Perfume Reviews

28 responses to “Strange Tales from the Cookie Kitchen

  1. I was on the edge of my seat reading this, Val.
    The fact Chris immediately got in a cab to come and get you shows he was a keeper.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hamamelis

    What a recognisable wonderful strange tale Cookie Queen. When I was 18 (a long long time ago) I went camping with friends in the South of France. I would meet my parents afterwards, on the way back, in Paris, from there we would start a long biking trip (via Bretagne, Isle of Wight, the Downs to London!). I travelled back on one of those tourist buses, and the chauffeur refused to let me off the bus because of insurance issues. I pleaded and in the end he dropped me off a gas station near Paris where I would try and call a cab. The gas station attendant made it very clear no cab would pick me up from that spot. I had a phone number and an address of the hotel where my parents were, so I phoned. No signal, the phone numbers recently had changed… No money. That feeling of dread that things can go very wrong now. Then I overheard a Dutch family who just stopped to refuel. I pleaded again for help, I suppose I was in tears by then, maybe they could drop me off at the nearby airport from where I could take a cab. They kindly did…I convinced a cab driver to take me to the hotel (in the middle of Paris) and get paid there. When I arrived I saw my father waiting anxiously outside the hotel. No need to say they had been very worried.
    I will never forget, and pay forward if I can, the kindness of strangers.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh my gosh Hamamelis – the onset of dread, but having to stay in control. . We do it because we have to, survival, but 18, that is so young. No signal and changed phone numbers, sounds like a horror movie! I am sure the Dutch family were sent to you, stuff like that does happen. You must have been so riled to hear them talk. Your parents must have been freaking out. I worry about my kids, but at least I can text them. As I said, thank god for mobile phones, the positive outweighs the negative big time. Thanks for sharing your even more terrifying story! xxxx

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  3. matty

    What a terrible situation to be in. Thank God for modern technology now X

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I can so easily imagine the fear you felt. With me it would have been full blown terror! You are such a good writer– this was riveting. And what a novel place to put hashish…. what I learn!

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    • It was my “in case of emergency, break glass” stash!! Just enough …… I was scared spitless. And the relief I felt when I knew Chris was on his way. Being scared magnifies everything, something I still have to remember. xxxx

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  5. Lost, alone and almost drug free! What a horrific story Val. On an island in at that time the middle of nowhere.
    You are made of sterner stuff that I.
    Portia xx

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  6. Yep, an island in the middle of nowhere, Now everyone goes there, all inclusive, drink as much rum as you want, European tourists, It was totally different when we went. Very few Europeans. You now the hotel we stayed in? It was a haven for young gay Americans. They advertised in the gay papers in the US, and on different university campuses. Met some amazing people, and some way weird ones. I cooked for the guests lot. We spent three months there. Twice. A way chilled place.
    I was so happy that Chris came to rescue me before the missing bikes. Dunno if that would happen any more. Hahahahahahahaha.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Tara C

    Wow, scary story, so glad Chris came to your rescue and the name of the hotel came back to you! I got separated from my husband in Hong Kong an the way back to the US from South Africa going through customs one time so I know how scary it is – this was before cell phones too. Fortunately I just went to the gate of our connecting flight and waited, he eventually showed up after getting a tour of the city in the paddy wagon after being accused of smuggling a handgun (long story) but the consul bailed him out and we made it home.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, but I wanna know more of that story. That sounds way exciting. Yep – life before cell phones was so utterly different. Something the under say 30s could never imagine, I am sure they will make horror movies about it one day!

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      • Tara C

        My first husband was South African, we had gone back to visit his parents and he wanted to bring his 2 shotguns and a handgun back to the US. We had all the correct paperwork and he told the airline check-in employee he had 3 guns, but because there were two gun cases (the handgun was packed in one of the shotgun cases) the employee mistyped 2 on the manifest. Of course when we went through customs in Hong Kong they xrayed the cases and saw an extra gun and arrested him. The HK police hauled him down to the South African consulate, who straightened things out and gave him a lift back to the airport. They invited him to stay for tea and a cricket match, but he said he had a flight to catch. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  8. empliau

    Wow, Val, amazing story and you really know how to zing the cliffhanger! Can’t wait to find out what happens next.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Empliau – I kind of wrote it to give me the kick I needed to finish next months installment. Which was originally going to be the opening of my Strange Tales series. Let’s see if to pans out. xxxx

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  9. OMG Val – that’s scary! Glad the hotel name popped into your head. And what happened in Amsterdam 3 months later??

    Liked by 1 person

  10. What a story. Those were the times before smartphones. Today this would be double terrifying without a smartphone, as we rely on them heavily…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey there Tanja – It would double terrifying because we do not know any numbers anymore – hahahahaha. So borrowing and phone would be useless, at least for personal contact. No wonder we are all attached, literally to our phones, they act as our brain too. Thanks for stopping by. 🙂 xxxx

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  11. It is extraordinary how we managed to stay in touch before mobile phones. So frightening to get separated from your travelling companion where planes and passport control are involved. I agree that Chris proved he was an absolute keeper in that story. More recently of course, there was the sunglasses retrieval stunt in that terrifying road tunnel!

    I think if anything I have had to rescue my menfolk when they have been in a scrape eg pick them up from a far flung hospital in the middle of the night, or act as airport transfer abroad but have a fraught time myself trying to reach them. Once involving a blowout on a flyover above Fort Lauderdale. It’s the FL word again. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Diana

    My God, that must’ve been a true horror. I felt worried just reading about your misfortunes, Val. Glad that your prayer was answered and Chris proved that he’s a treasure.

    Liked by 1 person

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